Shaping Kalamandalam's future

Kalamandalam is all set to get an international exposure, P.N. Suresh, special officer of the proposed Kerala Kalamandalam Cultural University, tells Radhakrishnan Kuttoor.

P.N. Suresh

It was his performance as head of the State-run Vasthu Vidya Gurukulam in Aranmula, coupled with successful efforts to get the national nodal agency status for the institution that made the State Government appoint P.N. Suresh special officer of the proposed Kerala Kalamandalam Cultural University.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has cleared the State Government's proposal seeking a "deemed to be cultural university'' status for the Kerala Kalamandalam in a record time of 20 days. The matter is now pending before the Union Ministry of Human Resources for final clearance, according to official sources.

Earlier, the UGC turned down the State Government's request for university status for the Kalamandalam in 2001 on technical grounds.

According to Mr. Suresh, the main objection raised by an UGC expert team was the absence of any university recognised courses at the institution. However, the Kalamandalam had rectified the problems cited by the UGC team and it now conducts 14 recognised degree courses, he says.

``The State is heavily indebted to T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and Vice-Chairman of the UGC V.N. Rajashekharan Pillai for this achievement in record time,'' Mr. Suresh says.

According to him, "Kalamandalam is all set to get an international exposure, once the Government declare it a deemed to be cultural university. With this, the paucity of funds which has been causing hurdles to its academic as well as professional development can be resolved.''

``The future is bright for the Kerala Kalamandalam, once it turns into a cultural university, perhaps the first one of its kind in the whole country,'' he says.

The Vasthu Vidya Gurukulam, which was formed in 1993 under the Department of Culture, was the brainchild of Mr. Suresh, a postgraduate in Sanskrit, Malayalam and sociology. The Gurukulam that runs courses in traditional architecture and mural painting is the only agency under the Cultural Department to attain self-reliance.

The Gurukulam stands as a role model for other Government agencies by setting up its own pension gratuity fund for disbursing pension benefits to its staff. The innovative idea of Mr. Suresh had won praises from various agencies outside the State as well as the former Chief Minister A.K. Antony, who launched the scheme in 2003.